The Image That Can Break Your Brain


There is an idea in literature called “harmful
sensation”. The idea that a sight, a pernicious idea,
a sound, a song, can get into your head and stay there for a very long time and actually
do you harm. Pernicious earworms aside, there is actually
a real thing that can get inside your head and affect the way your brain works just by
looking at it. It’s called the McCollough effect, and just
a warning: I realise that telling people on the internet not to do something is like telling
a 5-year-old not to stick beans up their nose, they are just going to stick beans up their
nose, but seriously: if you work with text or video, don’t do this. The McCollough effect revolves around these
images. If you stare at them for long enough — we’re talking anything up from 15 seconds
to 15 minutes — you’ll get, as you would with, say, blank colours, the opposite appear
in your brain. If you stare at a green light for long enough,
you’ll see red for a little while afterwards. But this doesn’t work at the retinal level:
the McCollough Effect, for some reason, works in the level of the brain. You induct these for long enough – 15 minutes
– you’re going to see the inverse colours on those gratings any time you look at something
like, say, these railings, all the time, for anything up to three months. The McCollough effect is a very rare thing,
it’s quite scary, it’s a real image that can lock into your brain, change the way it works,
and stick around for a good while. It is a real harmful sensation, and that is
something quite scary that you might not have known. [Translating this video? Add your name here if you’d like credit!]

70 thoughts on “The Image That Can Break Your Brain

  1. Something similar kind of happened when I looked at a lava lamp in the dark for a few minutes, when I left the room afterwards everything had a green hue for awhile afterwards.

  2. i tried doing this, got scared and look for an anti version of that image and it helped cure it (as in get rid of it)

  3. I think we did something like the McCollough effect back in middle school, but with an image of an inverted American flag. We looked at it for a few seconds, then looked at a white surface and saw the after image in the classic flag's colors. Though not for three months. Or at least I didn't. Or at least, I don't remember.

  4. every night when I broswe my phone and its really dark, I use lowest brightness + blue light filtrer. after I use the phone for like 3 hours , when I stop , I see a lot of blue everywhere like its definitely without any doubt easier to see blue in the dark for a while until also the red and green will be also easier to see in the dark, but until then it's an awesome sensation , feels like someone put a Blue tint on your vision and this shall also work if you filtrer orange light for a while and then you are gonna see lots of orange at least in the dark

  5. Evil life goal #42: Print this image out. Then, walk around at an art school, telling people you're doing an essay on optical illusions, and want them to look at the image for a few minutes and then answer a survey about what they see.

  6. Will you fix your brain if you swap red and green on the initial picture?
    "Alright, if horizontal red and vertical green mess me up, opposite will mess me up as well but the other way around"

  7. It's been around five minutes since I saw the green and red panels (before they faded to grey…).
    And I didn't stare at them for more than 20 seconds, yet I can still see horizontal grey bars across the pearlescent white body of my Fender Stratocaster…. Strings look okay though.

  8. An image that can break your brain: Picture Donald Trump NAKED. Now that will break your brain, permanently.
    Once seen, it cannot be UN-Seen. It will stay in your head for a very long time and do you harm.

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